Cultural Balkanization

Dear Senderoista,

The following is the second edition of The Passing Parade that I have written in preparation for the launch of our new service in the next week or two. It hasn’t been formally proof-read, so apologies for any glaring typos.

I hope you find it of some value. Any and all feedback appreciated.

David

Cultural Balkanization

A lot of noise has been made over the year by the Black Lives Matter crowd. And for good reason, black lives do matter. As do white lives, brown lives – in fact I think one can safely make the case that the full color spectrum matters.

To run around spouting about the killing of young black men, therefore, seems to be preaching to the choir. Outside of a small handful of the populace with serious mental issues, who would argue with the sentiment?

Okay, well, there is one group – still small mind you – that apparently has no remorse about gunning down young black men. Other young black men.

90% of blacks who are murdered meet their fates at the hands of other blacks.

And they are killing each other at a prodigious rate.

While blacks constitute 12.5% of the U.S. population, they are responsible for about 45% of all the murders in the U.S. Again, mostly they are killing blacks, but they punch well above their demographic weight when it comes to doing in whites as well.

Thus it seems to me that the #BlackLivesMatter crowd should reassess its priorities. Or, more to the point of today’s musing, adopt a new hashtag with a broader mandate that might actually change the world for the better.

“#BlackCultureDoesn’tMatter.

Gasp!

Did I just write that out in the open? Revealing, perhaps, for all to see, that I am a closet racist?

Yeah, no.

You see, imo, what’s really been going on over the last few decades is akin to Cultural Balkanization.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of Balkanization and its consequences, allow me to shed some light because it almost never ends well.

Welcome to the Balkans

While there are differing opinions on the question of the worst U.S. presidents ever, Woodrow Wilson holds the top spot on my list.

A prune-faced, self-righteous meddler of the highest order, Wilson’s misconceived policies and his blinding arrogance were directly or indirectly responsible for literally tens of millions of deaths in the last century. Even WWII could be legitimately laid at his boots.

More specifically, his demands after WWI for self-determination for the minority populations of the Balkans quickly blossomed into the meme that all ethnic groups were entitled to their own nation states. Thereby setting into motion internecine clashes and chaos without end.

Like the persistent poison of Marx’s aphorism “From each according to their ability to each according to their needs”, the fine sounding idea that every pod of humanity possessed of shared cultural norms is deserving of special rights is in practice, a recipe for unending conflict.

Even to this day, humanity continues to pay a heavy price for encouraging minorities to celebrate their differences, no matter how quirky and self-defeating. Rather we should act in concert with what might be termed the ‘best practices’ history has proven key to living successfully and in harmony with our fellow humans.

If a slogan is called for, I would like to recommend #BlackCultureDoesn’tMatter. And to that hashtag, I would add #WhiteCultureDoesn’tMatter, #IslamicCultureDoesn’tMatter and every other religious and ethnic construct which has survived history.

Sure, maybe you have a preference for meatballs and a certain flavor of Puttanesca sauce from the ‘old country’, no problem. Such culinary preferences are unlikely to lead to you and your neighbors stabbing each other with broken bottles.

What I’m talking about is the idea that all cultural groups are somehow special, even when those groups clearly follow practices any person whose vision hasn’t been blurred by glops of politically correct pabulum would find insane or, perhaps, just ridiculous.

Imagine, if you could, a world where we are all delivered to terra firma simultaneously, free of cultural indoctrination and each of us provided with a hand held electronic voting device.

And then, on big screens positioned around the globe, we watched televised sales pitches for the multitude of cultural choices each of us had to make before proceeding forth into the world.

For example…

“Join the Gangstas by pressing A on your touchpad now. You’ll spend your life looking over your shoulder as other gangstas try to gun you down. You’ll get the money you need to live hand to mouth by stealing, working at a gas station, pimping out girls, selling drugs or receiving a monthly pittance from some mindless bureaucracy. 

“Serving a large percentage of your time in prison being beaten, stabbed, molested and otherwise abused is a certainty. And, as a woman, you, too, can count on being beaten, raped and otherwise treated like a piece of meat. But the music has a certain hip beat to it.  Sound like the life for you? Press “A” now!”

Or, perhaps…

“Ever dreamed of spending your days worshipping an ancient deity but which through steady sermonizing you will come to believe in.  As a member of the Theists you’ll live your life according to the rules set down by a parasitical priest/iman/rabbi/preacher (your choice!) who makes his living by taking a cut from your income in exchange for threatening you with eternal damnation if you don’t follow his rules. Well, then, have we got a culture for you! 

“And, as a special offer for those of you who join the Muslims today, you can receive a special bonus when you blow yourself up on the instructions of your Iman: the promise of being serviced by 72 virgins for eternity. And, women, choose wisely and you, too, can spend your life as the property of a man and peering  at the world through the eye slits on the robe you’ll wear over your head. Sound like a winner? Press “B” now!

Rather than taking pains to insult additional cultures in order to make the point, I will move on.

The simple truth is that, for the most part, cultural adaptions are purposeful attempts at dividing humanity into factions, usually for the benefit of the rulers of said factions. And once divided, the opportunity for factions to confront each other, sometimes violently, becomes unlimited.

Besides, what passes these days as ‘cultures’ are, in my view, merely a clustering of individuals engaging in anti-social behaviors worthy of nothing more than derision.

Take the so-called “Black culture.” A culture so treasured that should a person of another skin color attempt to “appropriate” it certain over-heated politically-correct types will go into hysterics.

Well, I have a very hard time believing the majority of black people pay anything more than lip service to it.

For example, would any reasonably well-educated, working father or mother of a family that happens to be black, want to spend time hanging down at the corner store downing ‘40s’ with the paradigms of the so-called black culture pictured here?

Yet, thanks to Cultural Balkanization, society is now expected to respect and even pander to every possible cultural group, even those that will, over time, become extinct due to the total dumb-ass nature of their shared behaviors.

And, worse, the P.C. crowd’s Balkanization won’t stop at groups that share a certain history of behaviors and cultural preferences, the idea has flowed down hill to the idea that even sexual preferences are now somehow a matter for public discourse and special treatment.

On that subset of the topic, I turn the stage over to my dear colleague Angela while I duck into the kitchen for a snack.

Groundbreaking guidelines or social engineering?

By Angela van Schalkwyk

New federal guidelines were issued in mid-May directing public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity. The guidelines are designed to protect transgender students from discrimination and bullying within the school environment.

But in the background hangs the threat of Title IX, the federal anti-discrimination law in education which if invoked by the Justice and Education Department could include a loss of federal education funds.

This has prompted us to question how many people are affected by this new government directive? Our investigations reveal that much about the transgender community and its size is obscure. We were unable to uncover any national data.

It appears the main reason for the opaqueness is that the United States Census Bureau and official record keepers fail to ask about gender identity. Also adding to the confusion is that there are now, more than 50 gender options on Facebook.

The most up-to-date research into sexual orientation and gender identity that we unearthed was done by the Williams Institute in 2011.

According to the 2011 findings, the transgender population of 700,000 represents about 0.3% of American adults.

A safe assumption one can make is that of the 700,000 self-identified transgenders probably 100,000 or less are in the school system.

With a total U.S. population of 400 million, we are talking about pandering to a total population representing something like .00025 of the population. 

Because it suits most politicians, they like to proclaim all people were “created equal” and then set about trying to equalize everyone by rulings on income, gender and race. Where will it end?

Like transgenders, left handers are in the minority, though with a more substantial 10% of the population.

Consider the struggles of life as a left-hander. Most common tools are designed solely for use by right handers, making them awkward, painful or unsafe for lefties.

The most notable example of dangerous a right-hand bias is the U.S. road laws which acquire one to drive on the right side of the road, make right-hand turns at stop signs and enter parking garages from the right. The result – far more accidents for lefties.

One study surveyed nearly 2,000 college students and found that left handers reported more car accidents than their right handed colleagues.

Left handers are also more prone to emotional issues. A study by psychologist Dr Carolyn Choudhary at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh revealed that left handed people were more likely to suffer emotional stress when exposed to clips from a scary movie.

When asked to recall events from an 8-minute film clip taken from Silence of the Lambs, left handed volunteers gave more fragmented accounts filled with more repetition than their right handed counterparts.

This effect is common in people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

All the authorities need to do to protect left handers from experiencing trauma of this kind is to rule that movies blackout moments of chilling, high drama.

One may well ask, why the Department of Education is not addressing the problems of left handed students?
All I’m trying to point out is that government attempts to cater to increasingly thin slices of society – and one must admit that transgender students is a very slim slice – it is a slippery slope indeed.

Want to Get Along? Don’t Be a Jerk

David, again.

First, let me stress the point that I am not a racist and I could not care less what someone’s sexual preferences are. Really, whatever makes one happy that doesn’t hurt anyone else (at least who doesn’t want to be hurt, I hear some people go in for that stuff) is more than fine with me. Besides, it’s really none of my business.

So, here’s the point. We humans of the 21st Century have two fundamental choices to make. For one, we can continue down this path of blind adherence to cultural dictates that are increasingly sanctified by the high priests of political correctness.

The alternative is to wake up and take stock of what history has taught us about the behaviors that most encourage working together as human beings to advance civilization. As importantly, to gravitate toward behaviors that skew the odds in favor of enjoying a fulfilled and happy time during our limited days on this wonderful planet.

In that regard, here are 9 Dos and Don’ts which if everyone paid heed to, the world would be a better place.

  1. Don’t be a jerk. Treating others like you want to be treated has always been a simple way to calibrate one’s moral compass. Most of the other points that follow flow from this aptly named, “Golden Rule”.

  2. Don’t coerce others or otherwise mess in their stuff. Live and let live and all that.

  3. Do work in concert with other people. There is no question that human collaboration is essential for smoothly functioning economies and pretty much all human progress (with the push here and there from the occasional geniuses who help humanity leap forward).

  4. Do be yourself, but understand that actions have consequences. Go right ahead and insert big plugs in your ear lobes, or decorate your face with tattoos of demons, if that suits you. But do so with the understanding that you may be directing yourself into a career path revolving around washing dishes.

  5. Do stop whining. Nobody but nobody wants to hear about how downtrodden or unfortunate you are or, in many cases, have been trained to think you are. Don’t like your job or place in the pecking order, work to learn a marketable skill.

  6. Don’t rely on others, or worse, some sort of cultural artifact, to direct your actions in life. Take full responsibilities for your actions and accept that those actions have consequences and move on.

  7. Don’t lose yourself in self-damaging behaviors. While I am not averse to festivities, drinking heavily or doing drugs all the time or constantly eating like a sow or doing no exercise have obvious negative consequences. It is sad how many people one encounters are committing what I call slow motion suicide.

  8. Do take the time to learn every day. It will make you a better person, and it will help to improve society.

  9. Don’t worry too much. At the end of your life, you’ll be dead anyway. One way to keep these things in perspective is to remind yourself that the next ten years of your life will probably be the best ten years remaining in your life. So, have a bit of fun and don’t sweat the small stuff.

There are other similar ideas one could point to as useful, but as I have gone on long enough, I will wrap up by urging everyone to stop being so culture-centric.

Sure, enjoy your meatballs and Puttanesca or pint of Guinness at the end of the day, but don’t get so hung up in your culture you lose sight of the fact that we are all members of the same species and the color of our skin, or our sexuality, shouldn’t matter in the slightest.

That’s it for this week’s edition of The Passing Parade. Next week, I’ll have some hopefully useful ideas on how to look past the confusing chattering emanating from the punditry on investment markets and get a better picture of what’s really going on under the hood of the economy.

Well, at least that’s what I think I’ll be writing about…

David Galland

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